Matar Paneer (Dry Curry Version)
|Making paneer, a type of fresh "cheese" wildly popular in Northern Indian cuisine and North American Indian restaurants, is simple and straightforward. Directions can be found on the marvelous The Kitchn website. Last-minute cravings for a dinner of paneer can also be satisfied with a quick trip to the supermarket; most will have at least one brand in the specialty cheese section. Above, the all-important first step of pan frying the paneer.|
|The paneer will brown beautifully if fried over a medium heat.|
|Before proceeding with paneer in most recipes, be certain you have crisp-edged cubes of cheese. The crusty, browned exterior allows the paneer to be simmered in a multitude of dishes without melting or dissolving.|
|We love recipes using frozen peas straight from the freezer!|
|Our version of Matar Paneer forgoes the more typical cream sauce in favor of a "dry" style curry, one without a sauce. Briefly simmered ginger and green chilies contribute to the lighter, fresh flavor of the dish.|
|Fresh cilantro and a dusting of garam masala finish the dish and add a complexity of flavor. Cafe Drake HRV's recipe below is milder in heat than some may prefer; if you like it hot, add dried red chili powder as well in this final step.|
|Matar Paneer is a genius combination of vegetables and protein-rich cheese, a complete meal when served with rice or bread. At Cafe Drake HRV we enjoyed ours with cardamom-spiked rice, masoor dal and cabbage salad.|
|Like all food Matar Paneer tastes better when shared with friends or family. Jen and Ben contributed a lovely red Loire wine, light but complex enough to stand up to all this subcontinental spice.|
MATAR PANEER, OUR WAY
Begin cutting 1/2 lb. paneer (an Indian fresh cheese) into 1" cubes. Heat 3 T. vegetable oil or ghee in a large non-stick skillet over a medium flame. When the oil is hot - about two minutes - place the paneer cubes in the pan in a single layer. Brown on both sides, cooking until the paneer cubes have a crusty, golden brown exterior. Be careful of popping oil - the paneer will release a bit of water in to the skillet causing oily fireworks!
When the paneer is nicely browned on at least two sides, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. To the remaining oil in the skillet, add 1 thinly sliced onion and cook until it begins to turn golden. Add 5 T. hot water to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Toss in 10-12 oz. box of frozen petite peas and 1 t. of sugar. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, no more.
Add the fried paneer back to the skillet along with 1-2 T. grated ginger, 1 or 2 sliced hot green chilies and 2 sliced scallions. Cook gently for about 3 minutes. Remove the heat and sprinkle in 1/2 t. garam masala powder and salt to taste. Just before serving garnish with a couple of tablespoons of minced cilantro.